COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - A rise in violent crimes has the Columbia Police Department looking at better ways to ensure the safety of the city. Chief Michael Kelly says if you look at data from the past three years, the overall crime rate in the city is down, but violent crimes are on the rise.
“It’s not something that we’re proud of that our violent crime rate has gone up, but we’re going to do what it takes to get it under control,” Kelly said. “Aggravated assault went from nine to 18, so it doubled. So that tells us we’ve got a problem there that we need to pay attention to and we need to put some strategies in place to bring that number down.”
This year, the police department has responded to 40 shootings, 22 simple domestic assault cases and one murder.
“One murder is one too many as far as I’m concerned,” Kelly said. “So we want to make sure that we are doing the proactive things necessary to bring this under control.”
To help reduce violent crimes in the city, the police department plans to roll out their Safe & Secure Neighborhoods Initiative (S2NI).
“Our purpose of S2NI is to create a safer Columbia by reducing violent crimes, ensuring the safety of our residents and building trust in partnerships and neighborhoods,” Kelly said.
Kelly says other programs launched by his department in the past, such as the 9 p.m. Routine, have helped bring other crime numbers down.
“Our larcenies went down from 88 to 38, our malicious mischiefs went down from 13 to five,” Kelly said. “Our stolen vehicles went down from 12 to six and a lot of this stuff is just educating the public on how you can make sure your property is safe, so property crime went down.”
He says progress through partnerships is important and hopes this new initiative will bring lower numbers this time next year.
“We’re going to reconnect with our community, we miss our community and we’re going to move forward,” Kelly said.
The Columbia Police Department expects to launch the three-phase initiative sometime in October.